IntroductionOpinions are always sharply divided as to whether we need the private sector to dominate the education scenario, as it does now. For example, the huge number of new Deemed Universities and private State Government Universities do demand very high fees and also offer some scholarships, but their role is quite commercial in nature. On the other hand, the Government or the quasi-Government schools and colleges do offer education at very cheap and subsidized rates. However, there is the problem of complacency that sets in and the bureaucratic attitudes set in so fast; the net result is zero, as the syllabus and content is never ever updated and made contemporary.
The best example of a prime private sector higher education institution that has added tremendous value in the recent times is the Indian School of Business. This Hyderabad-based world-class B-School charges the PGDM student upwards of twenty lakh rupees for the one year PGDM course, but offers the full Bank loan to anyone who needs it. The placement is one hundred percent and since those who join this course come with minimum of five years of work experience, the economic status of those who join the PGDM course is such that they would always have some money to spare. The students easily repay their loans within eighteen months.
And ISB has consistently produced CEO-type of leaders, who dominate the Indian Corporate Scenario. On the contrary, there are several State Government Universities where the MBA course is offered. even today, as an extension of the M. Com course and with the same commerce faculty, with zero industrial exposure. The results are pathetic, to say the least.
Hence, private sector participation in higher education is here to stay. In this article a few dimensions will be discussed. a) Private sector expands the scope of innovation b) Perfect competition actually improves standards c) New Educational methodologies can be instituted d) Private sector can actually motivate the Government institutions to change and e) Private sector's role will keep on expanding anyway.
Private sector expands the scope of innovationTake any private sector institution. Or even a quasi-Government institution, where the teachers are paid by the State Government. There will always be some innovation in terms of teaching or syllabus or whatever. In fact, this is the norm in most Autonomous colleges of the country. The new electives are added. The teachers always go the extra mile in creating a conducive environment to study.
The reasons are obvious. They need to do something to pitch and position themselves far above the rest of the Government institutions and they also need to be totally aware of the new competition. There will always be some teachers who will do different things.
Perfect competition actually improves standardsThere is always perfect competition between the private institutions and they keep on competing for the same set of students. Take the CBSE schools of a city like Chennai. The Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Higher Secondary School Chennai leads the pack.
This is followed by the DAV Higher Secondary School, a school that is part of the DAV group, with a pan-India presence. The third school that is highly competitive in the same space is the Mylapore-based DAV Higher Secondary School.
Each of these schools have produced the top CBSE ranks in several years. In fact, the competition to enter these CBSE schools is fierce, year after year.
How does it happen? Firstly, the teachers realize that unless they improve their standards, the school cannot attract quality students. Secondly, since the students are themselves from families where both the parents are professionals and are gainfully employed, the ecosystem at home actively supports the high standards that obtain in the educational institutions. Thirdly, the peer pressure to perform also contributes to the overall excellence. The combination of such factors leaders to far better ecosystems in such environments. For example, the students themselves share a lot of knowledge among themselves and this leads to a creative atmosphere where the competitive spirit to prepare for the IIT-JEE or the NEET or both competitive examinations, is there for the asking. Thus, the perfect competition between the set of institutions in the same ecosystem actually improves the highest form of educational standards in such institutions.
New Educational methodologies can be institutedRote learning, as a rule, is not encouraged. There are conscious efforts to infuse new educational methodologies. Today, project work and case-studies are a way of life in the commerce group at the plus two stage. Similarly, the emphasis on out-of-the-box thinking in the science stream is also very common. There are new methodologies that are being introduced on a daily basis. The advent of online education has even made things better. For, the students now have a natural inclination to source various strands of knowledge and get them to mesh together to some sort of rich mosaic in one way or the other.
Private sector can actually motivate the Government institutions to changeThe Tamil Nadu Government, for example, has formed a high-level committee of well-known experts to study what can be done to make the education on par with the private institutions. For example, it is now felt that the knowledge of English, both written and spoken, in all Government schools, is not up to the desired standards. Hence, this is now sought to be improved. The General knowledge of the students is sought to be improved.
Hence, the private sector can indeed act as a catalyst for the Government educational institutions to change. The visible changes in several arts and science colleges are mostly induced by such competition.
Private sector's role will keep on expanding anyway Take health care. Take infrastructure. Take the service sector like the massive IT sector, the shopping malls, the roads, the theatres and so on. Each of these sectors and businesses are dominated by the private sector. In fact, the massive growth of employment in the private sector is one big factor that has contributed to the overall growth of the economy. The IT sector is now said to be supporting the direct and indirect employment of over five crore Indians, throughout India. This is a massive contribution.
When this is the overall scenario, it is hardly surprising that the private sector will not make deep inroads into the field of school and college education. The Deemed Universities are expected to grow by leaps and bounds. There is nothing wrong with this. Since the placement facilities are good, the educational loans are now available for all aspiring students and this is a big and positive development.
ConclusionCertain dimensions of the role of the private sector in both the school and college education, have been discussed above. In the years to come, such dimensions are likely to be debated in a more detailed manner. Of course, such discussions are likely to add to more interesting and positive outcomes.
This is an exhaustive information by the author about the role of private sector in providing effective higher education. It is very true that private sectors are working in competitive and professional ways and it is equally true that the Govt institutions cannot match the quality of education with them. These private top institutions are having good links with the industry and they are able to place their students in better positions. It is obvious that the rich people would make a beeline for the admissions in these prestigious institutions so that their wards get a position in the industry immediately after completing their course.
A private school/ college has to see that all the seats get filled in all the classes every year. Otherwise, they can't sustain their presence in the field. We should remember that for private players education institution is also a way of earning. It is a business for them. The teaching staff or the administrative staff has to put in their 100% effort and see that the results of the school are the best. Then only they can survive in the job. They are accountable. But in government schools, the performance of the school and the career progress is no way linked. Teachers' increments or promotions are not dependent on the results obtained by the school. They are not accountable. If something can be done to bring in accountability, we will see a different atmosphere altogether.